Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag does not agree with the notion that Edson Álvarez has lost a spot or two in the hierarchy of his squad. The coach did not opt to start with Álvarez in the Champions League match against Lille, when Daley Blind and Joël Veltman were suspended and his options were limited. He was forced to come on later as a substitute.
“Edson Álvarez hasn’t lost his place, I don’t see it that way”, said Ten Hag in an interview with Voetbal International. The manager had to consider a lot of factors ahead of that particular match, he explains. “Edson had returned from his international duty quite late, and Schuurs and Martínez had played together once already at the start of the season. They played well then.”
Ten Hag still holds Álvarez in high regard, and he can be very useful to Ajax as both a defender and a midfielder. “It is simply a very competitive squad, and all the players are very close together in terms of hierarchy. We all know that Álvarez in comfortable in midfield as well, we have all seen that in Lille once again. He will have to wait for his opportunity and take it when it arises. Last week showed us once more that we don’t have one set-in-stone starting eleven, but rather a very large group of players who can play in multiple positions. That allows me to reconsider the line-up ahead of every single match, as well as replace anyone who picks up an injury or suspension.”
A big compliment has to be made to the lads who don’t start week in, week out, says Ten Hag. “They still give it their all in training every single time, even when they don’t start for Ajax on a regular basis. It’s no easy task to handle the disappointment of not playing while also preparing to be ready to play in case the team needs you.” The coach can’t stop talking about the importance of squad depth. “It keeps all the players sharp and focused, and it makes Ajax more flexible and safe.”